by Nick Gale
It took me three attempts to get my first table at Dishoom - Shoreditch.
On the first two attempts, which were midweek evenings, we were told we’d be waiting up to two hours for a table to be ready, and with the queue outside curling round the corner, I don’t think they were lying. Dishoom’s reputation has clearly preceded it, but surely it couldn’t be THAT good. But it WAS!
Once the pain of our first two expeditions had worn off, our third attempt was a success and we finally had a coveted table in the famous Dishoom.
For those who don’t know, Dishoom is an Indian restaurant mini-chain with five locations across London, Kensington, Kings Cross, Covent Garden and just off Carnaby Street are the others.
But this is no ordinary Indian. Each dish, taking elements from traditional Indian cuisine, has some sort of twist to make it their own. The restaurant’s mysterious, yet enticing entrance way, draws you in with its ivy canopy and middle eastern style patio, reminding one of a quaint Moroccan café. Especially on warmer days, this is where you’ll want to be seated.
To start, we had the Prawn Kaliwada (£6.50). The perfectly cooked prawns which retained their succulence and flavour were encased in a light batter with an unusual but delicious seasoning.
They went extraordinarily well with the tamarind and date chutney Dishoom provides on the side.
Moving on to the main, we had Lamb Biryani (£11.50) served in a clay pot that had its lid sealed with a chapati. I’m not exactly sure what the function of this lidding technique was, besides keeping it nice and hot, but the rice and lamb nestled inside were perfectly cooked so whatever it did, it worked.
Now, the pièce de résistance, the home-made black daal. This delicious side will be essential to pretty much any meal you order at Dishoom. As the Biryani doesn’t come with a vegetable curry as you’d expect, it’s particular necessary for this dish. The perfect consistency and strong flavours will leave you wondering where all the other daal in the world has been going wrong until now.
I’ve experienced a lot of Indian cuisine in London, and Dishoom blows them all out the water. It isn’t just about the taste, but the sheer audacity of tweaking recipes that have been popular for seemingly ever, and getting it right in the process. If you do manage to find a table, you’re really in for a treat. And it's really good value - we spent about £35 for the two of us.
Finally, what does Dishoom mean? .It's first the sound when a bullet flies through the air, or someone lands a punch in a Bollywood movie (like the pow, bam in 1960s Batman). It can also mean a Hindi version of Mojo - self-confidence, style and sex-appeal.
Both explanations work!!!
Nearest Stations are Shoreditch High Street (Overground) or Liverpool Street (short walk)
7 Boundary Street
London E2 7JE Tel: 020 7420 9324